November 26, 2012

Economic Language

In Gate's article I was most intrigued by the idea of the economic factors of language. Gates stated in his article that literacy is " the emblem that links racial alienation with economic alienation" (Gates, 6) This thought can apply to so many places today in 2012. For me, I automatically thought of lower reading and writing levels in impoverished areas in the US as well as many countries across the globe.  I thought of different uses of slang and jargon by people of different economic statuses. Gates used the example of Phillis Wheatley, a slave who wrote a book of poems and had to go up against a council of 18 judges to prove that she was the one who wrote them. From this example he worked to the point of saying that when slaves began to write they were seen as more human? On page 12 he said "Writing stood as a complex 'certificate of humanity'". Is it because writing is a form of communication? Intelligence? Learning ability? I think this is a powerful statement, while I may be taking this a little out of context, and I definitely can see where he is coming from in this argument but there's so many factors that I'm not sure I agree with it completely.

Another thing that really stood out to me was the passage on page eleven when Gates discussed the idea that a voice through writing created a face. "The very face of the race was contingent upon recording the black voice. Voice presupposed a face, but also seems to have been  thought to determine the very contours of the  black face." (Gates, 11) As a reader, I've always tried to put a face to the voice of an author so this was a concept I could grasp but when I was reading this article I didn't realize that Gates was African American until the end. I didn't really think about it at all. The idea that a voice actually creates a physical "face" is something that makes me think because it's something that I do all the time but don't realize. It's an innate response for me.

1 comment:

tyreekminor said...

I believe that Gates was correct in his notions that the voice in a writing creates a face that should presupposed. The author's, more so the character's face, is mostly constructed through the writing itself. We have a voice in which to reference in the shaping and perceiving of one's personality and little else. When a dynamic personality is portrayed and made important, a reader's innate response is to construe a visual of that character or author, just as you said it is an innate response for you to do so.
I would very much like to know what claims from Gates' argument you disagree with. Writing very much did stand for a 'certificate of humanity,' the ability to articulate and reflect and capacity to educate oneself, a distinction between human and beast. A powerful statement, yes, but one that has been proven time and time again in many nations where a ruling class kept power due to their education. What factors do you speak of that lead to our disagreement?

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